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Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Experts Suggest Software Problems, Not Just Demand, May Be Behind Marketplace Glitches

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While many insurers have declined to furnish enrollment numbers, some say the federal site has worked for at least a few customers.

“We’re beginning to see people enroll as of last night,” Cigna spokesman Joe Mondy said Thursday. “As of yesterday, I was telling folks it’s not working. As of last night, they’ve been trickling in. And I do mean trickling. We’re not seeing waves of folks.”

BlueCross BlueShield of Louisiana got seven enrollees in a Wednesday evening data transfer from federal computers, although one may have been a duplicate, said Michael Bertaut, a senior economist for the plan.

Unlike some other insurers, the Louisiana insurer ran a week of successful tests with the federal system before going live this week, Bertaut said.

Aetna also confirmed it had enrolled consumers from the federal system, but did not disclose any numbers. 

The nation’s largest health insurer, UnitedHealthcare, did not respond to requests for information.

At Health Care Service Corp., a multi-state Blues system based in Illinois, “we can't confirm the end-to-end completion of enrollment activity via the marketplace,” spokeswoman Lauren Perlstein said Thursday.

Instead, HCSC was pointing customers to its own site, where the company is accepting applications and following up with people to complete enrollment.

Cigna was doing the same thing.

“Most people are going to look on the exchange and see what plans are out there and at some point they’ll want to go beyond the exchange to the portals of the carriers they’re interested in,” Mondy said.

There were continued widespread reports of consumer frustration with the federal signup process on Twitter, Facebook and other social media.

Daniel McNaughton, a 22-year-old college student in Orlando, Fla., tried to enroll Tuesday, just when the marketplace opened for business. He tried three or four times the next day and was finally able to enroll Wednesday morning.

Currently, he has a catastrophic plan that pays for only three doctor visits a year.

On the federal exchange, he picked a gold-level plan, one of the most expensive options, and a premium of $270 per month. But after a large federal subsidy, his contribution will be $70 a month – the same amount that he is currently paying but for much broader coverage.

Thu, Oct 03 2013

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